Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘comic books’ Category

The caped crusader is 75!  Let’s celebrate the big day with some of Batman’s most memorable covers…

1Does that skunk contain a kryptonite bomb?

1The superboys, always comparing the size of their…uh…diamonds.

1You can tell they’ve hit rock bottom by the little hobo sack on sticks they’re carrying.

1While no actual crime has been committed, they’re getting a beating anyway.

1Shocking!  I think the bird is done!  Ha ha!  Seriously though.  Let’s get him to the burn unit.

1Let me guess.  Your driver’s license?

1Doing a fine job of blending in.

1Typical male.

1And by “red” you mean “pink”, right?

1On the one hand, he could kill Robin.  On the other, he’s THIS close to a perfect game.

1Batman’s to do list: 1. Get laid.  2. Capture Joker.

1Yeah, whatever happened to “Batboy”, a.k.a. “lamest superhero ever”?

1Good thing that dog is wearing a mask.  Wouldn’t want to reveal his true identity.

1Pesky drafts!  Presumably, this was before the invention of the bat-clasp.

1It wouldn’t be so tragic if he weren’t so talented.

1I would seriously reconsider placing my trust – to say nothing of my life – in the hands of a trained ape.  But maybe that’s why I’M not a superhero.

1Now why the hell would the Queen make that crazy asumpti – Oh.  Right.

1Batman: Fashion Menace!

1Been there.  Fought that.

1Oh, right.  The snowy white beard.  He’s really old.

1Ah, the pain of unrequited love.

1Have at thee, truculent street lamp!

1Turning him into a baby was bad, but dressing him in those culottes was unforgivable.

1Ho ho!  Those pranking sidekicks!

1Every superhero has their weakness.

1It’s Paul!  Paul’s the dead one!

Read Full Post »

I asked my Japanese girlfriend, Akemi, to identify some of comicdom’s most famous superheroes.

How’d she do?

Not bad.  Not bad at all…

CAPTAIN AMERICA

CAPTAIN AMERICA

SHREK

SHREK

MR. RAMEN MAN

MR. RAMEN MAN

A.K.A.

A.K.A.

JOKER

JOKER

Also JOKER

Also JOKER

GREEN LINTO

GREEN LINTO

MR. POINTER

MR. POINTER

KAWABURA

KAWABURA

IRON MAN 21

IRON MAN 21

FLASH

FLASH

And KEN

And KEN

How’d YOU do?

Read Full Post »

1THE SUPERIOR FOES OF SPIDER-MAN

Writer Nick Spencer is at the top of his game here, exploring the private and professional lives of a group of B-team villains, The Sinister Six – who are actually made up of FIVE members hard-luck members.  They’re sneaky, opportunistic, and completely disloyal, but you can’t help but love ‘em.  

1RAT QUEENS

Established notions of the fantasy genre are upended in this wild and whimsical series about “a pack of booze-guzzling, death-dealing maidens-for-hire”.  Equal parts dark fantasy and dark humor combine for an epic tale of magic, adventure and, above all, friendship. 

1ALEX + ADA

In a near future of advanced technology quite literally on the heels of a robot revolution, mild-mannered Alex Wahl is sent an unexpected birthday present from his grandmother: a Tanaka X5 android.  Bewildered and little creeped out, he decides to return the gift to the manufacturer, but there’s an earnestness and beauty to the android he names Ada that gives him pause.  The Luna Brothers have a knack for cracking dialogue and wonderful character-driven stories (see Ultra), and this title – written by Jonathan Luna and Sara Vaughn - holds the promise of comparable greatness.

5c47b60c1f25f87351b9c5c25a764d82_mTHOR: GOD OF THUNDER

To be honest, I’ve never been a big fan of Thor. I’ve always found him – well, kind of dull.  But in the hands of Jason Aaron, the God of Thunder is transformed into a rich, engaging, humorous character.  The latest story arc, The Accursed, is epic high fantasy with a Game of Thrones vibe but a spirt and style all its own.  

JUSTL-25-15-08c83JUSTICE LEAGUE (FOREVER EVIL)

A continuing tie-in to the major “Forever Evil” story arc running through the DC titles.   Alternate/Evil versions of the Justice League from a parallel Earth have orchestrated a take down of this planet’s heroes and triggered a super villainous uprising.  While there are big battles and action aplenty, for my part I’m enjoying the smaller, character-centered stories that shed light on the behind-the-scenes machinations of Earth’s new criminal power brokers.  Double-crosses, shifting alliances, and hidden agendas – writer Geoff Johns does a masterful job of building suspense and doling out the unexpected twists and turns.  Like a comic book version of a serialized cable series. 

Check them out if you get the chance, then report back!

Snow Monkeys update: Down 12 points with three quarters of football still to play!

Today’s entry is dedicated to long-time Stargate fan Jill Bratcher, AKA majorsamfansg1.  All the best for a speedy recovery and return home, Jill!

Read Full Post »

Okay.  Pursuant to yesterday’s blog entry, some careful strategy is required.

I think that, rather than striking out now as everyone – especially those in a position to make the decisions – prepares for the holidays or, in some cases, is already off on holidays, the campaign should hold off in order to maximize its efforts.

Plan and coordinate now, then launch in the second or third week of the New Year when everyone is back at the office – and eager to start green lighting those new projects!

I leave you to pick a target date.

And, speaking of planning, what do you all have planned for the coming holidays? Visiting relatives?  Staying close to home?  Getting away from it all with a trip to an exotic locale?  Bora Bora?  Fiji?  Vegas?

Given the choice, if you could spent the holidays anywhere in the world EXCEPT home (or the home of a loved one), where would it be?

My Top 5 NOT Home For the Holidays Destinations:

1

5. Christmas in Hawaii

Well, why the hell not?  Sure, there’s nothing like a white Christmas, but after one too many festive deep-freezes in my home town of Montreal, I think I’d appreciate a little change of venue.  Maybe less snow and more sand.  Less spruce and pine and more palm.  Less roasted chestnuts, more poi.  And, oh yeah, the beach.

14. Christmas in Hong Kong

The view from Kowloon of the colorfully lit buildings lining the Central Hong Kong across Victoria Harbor is absolutely stunning.  Not quite the rest and relaxation offered by a Hawaiian getaway, but certainly a hell of a lot warmer than an east coast winter, and maybe even more cosmopolitan.  If you’re looking to shop away the holidays, this is the place!

13. Christmas Tokyo

Well, of course.  Tokyo out Christmases most North American cities with its stunning seasonal displays and spirit.  Granted, the Japanese don’t quite celebrate the holiday like some of us do, eschewing family in favor of romantic dinners for two, but it’s hard not to get caught up in the festive mood.

1

2. Christmas in Savannah

I chose Savannah, Georgia because I’ve been researching the city of late, but I’d happily do Charleston, S.C. as well or any other down home American city that offers a southern take on the holiday complete with pecan pie and bourbon-spiked eggnog.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA1. Christmas in Las Vegas

Well, surprise surprised?  Not really.  Unlike any of the other places listed, Vegas is only a few hours away, offering fun, sun, and restaurant lineup to rival New York and L.A.

So, let’s all start planning for next year!  Where are we all going?

Read Full Post »

1

StellaByStargate writes: “I’m curious as to who (person or organization) “owns”–for lack of a better word–the scripts for the SGA and SG-1 movies? So many of us would love to see those novelized and made part of the Stargate canon…is there any way we could launch a campaign to make that happen? Who would we have to annoy/pester/wheedle/cajole/blackmail? If any group is up to the task, I’m guessing it’s the Stargate fandom.”

Answer: GREAT question!

The rights to both Stargate movie scripts (Stargate: Extinction and Stargate: Revolution) rest with the studio, MGM.  It is up to them if and when Stargate fans will see these stories, in some form or other.  Unfortunately, for reasons I’ve gone over here (September 12, 2013: Whither Stargate?) it’s highly unlikely the Atlantis movie will be produced.  However, there are other options…

To be honest, I have neither the time nor the patience to sit down and novelize the Atlantis script (Stargate: Extinction).  Besides, I think the writers of the Legacy series have done a fine job continuing the adventures in book form.

Having said that, I certainly would make the time to script a four-issue comic book based on Stargate: Extinction if I was approached to do so.  I had a great experience working on a previous comic book project, Dark Matter, and believe the comic book format would be a great way to get the story out there.  It would be especially convenient for fans who want to check out the story but may not be inclined to invest the time required to read a full novel.

In fact, the more I think about it, the more I’m convinced that this is actually a fantastic idea.  For several reasons.  Not only is it the best, most visual, fan-accessible means of experiencing Stargate: Extinction, it also works to MGM’s benefit by revitalizing the fan base in advance of whatever they have planned next for the franchise.

Fan campaigns, while well-intentioned, will never have as meaningful an impact because, at the end of the day, decisions are based on the bottom line.  Are the potential viewers still out there and is there money to be made?  Well, what better way to find out than by testing the waters with a comic book based on a story Stargate fans have been clamoring for?  Yes, it may be easy to ignore a deluge of fan mail in support of a show, but much more difficult to dismiss solid sales figures.

If the studio gave the go-ahead to a Stargate: Extinction comic book, there would be no downside for anyone, only plenty of upside for both MGM and the fans.

Worst case scenario: Stargate: Extinction is released as a comic book but doesn’t sell as well as hoped (highly unlikely).  At the very least, the fans finally get to experience the story that brings Atlantis back to the Pegasus Galaxy.

Better case scenario: Stargate: Extinction is released as a comic book and does well. So well, in fact, that further stories are commissioned.  What would be next?  Well, there are all those episode ideas we were kicking around for Stargate: Atlantis’s sixth season (September 30, 2008: An AU Season 6!).  There is also the SG-1 movie, Stargate: Revolution, and the further adventures of SG-1.  And, of course, there’s also the possibility of continuing the Stargate: Universe storyline.

Best case scenario: Stargate: Extinction is released as a comic book and surpasses sales expectations, making MGM stand up and take notice that the television franchise, and Atlantis in particular, still has a huge and devoted fan base. And then maybe, just maybe, we succeed where earlier fan campaigns have failed: taking a giant step in convincing MGM to continue the story onscreen.

But, first things first.  We have to make the Stargate: Extinction comic book happen.

So, let the studio know.  Contact MGM and tell them you want to see a Stargate: Extinction comic book, a comic book based on the unproduced Stargate: Atlantis script.

Get the word out!  And tell your fellow fans to get the word out!

Make enough noise, get their attention, and we’ll have our Stargate: Extinction comic.  And potentially much more because for the first time in a long while, YOU THE FANS will be able to influence the future of Stargate.

Coming your way?

Coming your way?

Read Full Post »

1

In case you missed it, September was Supervillains Month, four glorious weeks in which DC celebrated 52 of its most colorful baddies by giving each their own one-shot.  Following the events of Trinity War that saw Earth’s greatest heroes defeated at the hands of Earth-3′s nefarious Crime Syndicate, massive jailbreaks and irresistible opportunity resulted in these villains taking over the pages of DC’s regular titles.  And, being a big fan of the bad guys, how could I resist?

Like any story collection, there were highs and lows.  When all was said and done, I enjoyed the majority, disliked about a dozen, but absolutely loved a handful.

Counting down my Top 10 Titles of DC’s Supervillains Month…

#10. RA’S AL GHUL AND THE LEAGUE OF ASSASSINS (James Tynion IV – writer, Jeremy Haum – artist)

1

It’s 1285.  Crusaders descend upon a dark tower in the east, demanding to see its master, a reputed demon.  As it turns out, he turns out to be neither man nor demon.  He is Ra’s Al Ghul, and he is their death.

We flashforward to the present day where, after the events of Trinity War, Ra’s Al Ghul is paid a visit by a representative of The Society, the new world order.  Rather than accept The Society’s offer, Ra’s Al Ghul engages their agent in a sword duel.  As they battle, we flashback to Ra’s Al Ghul’s rise – his adventures from the ancient East through the Orient, 17th century London, 18th century China, 19th century America, and 20th century Eastern Europe – and the loss he experiences at the hands of Batman.  It’s a fascinating journey that informs us on the man, his attitude and intelligence, something The Society’s agent doesn’t seem to comprehend until it’s too late.  But by book’s end, WE understand: Ra’s Al Ghul is a force to be reckoned with.

#9. OCEAN MASTER (Geoff Johns & Tony Bedard – plot, Tony Beard – words, Geraldo Borges – pencils)

1Being a somewhat sporadic comic book reader, I wasn’t familiar with a number of these villains.  Take Ocean Master for one.  Given the deep sea motif, I assumed he was an Aquaman adversary.  Other than that – well, I don’t know much.  And, after reading this issue, I still don’t know all that much about his background.  Unlike quite a few of the other titles, Ocean Master #1 eschews an origin story (or, frankly, any backstory) in favor of a character study of the self-proclaimed “King of Atlantis”. We find him, quite literally, a fish out of water, cooling his gills at Belle Reve Penitentiary in Louisiana.  His imperious manner and dismissive attitude toward his court-appointed lawyer is undercut by the fact that he is beholden to a kindly prison guard for the regular water allowance that keeps him alive.

When the prison is crashed by unknown forces, the lawyer is killed.  The guard, grievously wounded, asks for help.  Ocean Master repays the man’s kindness by doing him a kindness in turn, killing him to end his suffering.  What’s interesting here is that he’s not motivated by cruelty but pity for a lesser being, ending his life as easily as one might uproot a sick plant.

On his journey back to the sea, he happens upon two escaped convicts threatening a woman at a diner.  He takes them down for disrespecting him.  The fact that he saves their victim is incidental – and that becomes clear when the woman pleads with him to help protect her boy.  He’s only eight.  “Then he should know how to defend himself,”Ocean Master responds.  “It was what I had to do.  It was what I was forced to do to prepare myself for the responsibilities I have.”  The mother races home to save her son from a group of thugs and, as her anguished cries rise up, Ocean Master walks away and into ocean.

He disappears beneath the waves but then, suddenly, breaks the surface. “Eight,”he says, casting his gaze out toward land.  “Eight is too young.”  Is he going back to save the boy?  Is he simply demonstrating sympathy for the kid?  Or are his final words really only meant for himself?  I love the ambiguity of the ending and the ambiguity of the character, a villain with depth and purpose.  While I may not be anymore familiar with Ocean Master’s background after reading this issue, I certainly know more about his character than that of the many other DC villains.

#8. ZOD (written by George Pak, with art by Ken Lashley)

1Outside of his banishment to the Phantom Zone at the beginning of the first Superman movie, General Zod is another character I’m not all that familiar with. Unlike Ocean Master’s outing, here we’re presented with a backstory as well as a nuanced character, although one perhaps not quite as interesting as the “King of Atlantis”.

As a youth, Zod demonstrates unease, even fear, at the prospect of dissecting an alien specimen his father, a scientist, has been experimenting on.  What at first we take for weakness actually ends up proven prescience when the aliens escape, sending young Zod and his parents on the run into the thick jungle surrounding the lab.  Sometime later, a rescue party arrives on the scene led by Jor-El (aka Superman’s dad).  They discover Zod, the sole survivor.

Years later, Zod is General Zod, a ruthless warrior with a deep-seeded hatred for the char, the aliens that killed his parents.  The humorless Zod is ridiculed by many of his fellow Kryptonians, his warnings of an impending char attack falling on deaf ears until – he is proven correct.  The char launch a devastating attack, but they are defeated by Zod who saves the day.  Celebrated and empowered, Zod launches an attack on the char homeworld, massacring the species.  But it’s a victory far more bitter than sweet because Jor-El has made a shocking discovery.  It turns out the char that attacked Krypton, killing thousands of its citizens, were actually a hybrid created by Zod.

Zod is banished and, as the Phantom Zone claims him, we are treated to a final flashback of young Zod’s first encounter with the char.  As he and his father flee into the jungle, they stop to catch their breath. Escape seems futile and, in what could be their last moments, father apologizes to son.  “It’s alright, father,”young Zod forgives his dad – before driving a branch into his eye.  As his father collapses, his screams attracting the pursuing char, Zod makes good his escape.  Not so much a twist but a gruesome little Machiavellian beat that adds an interesting touch to this driven villain.

#7. TWO FACE (Peter J. Tomasi – writer, Guillem March – artist)

1

I like my villains ambiguous and unpredictable and, in both cases, you’ll be hard-pressed to find better than Harvey Dent, aka Two-Face, a man motivated not by benevolence or self-interest but the flip of a coin.  At the beginning of this tale, we discover Harvey on a rooftop, in mid coin flip.  As Gotham burns, he must decide what to do: help or hurt.  But before the decision can be made for him, the coin is snatched out of mid-air by a fellow rogue, the Scarecrow.  He has come bearing an invitation to join the new evil order, and it is offered in the form of a unique coin. Harvey accepts the invitation, but reminds Scarecrow what he and The Secret Society should already know: “It doesn’t matter which one I flip.  The coin’s answer is always final.”

And he promptly proves the point, resuming his earlier coin flip. Heads, he saves Gotham.  Tails, he lets it bleed.  It comes up heads – and so he embarks on a vigilante campaign, eliminating threats with extreme prejudice.  At the Gotham City Courthouse, he presides over various criminals, meting out the death penalty as punishment for various crimes.  The courthouse is crashed by a group representing the Secret Society who have taken exception to Two Face’s brand of justice.  They murder some of Harvey’s associates.  Harvey responds in kind, gunning them down and killing the deal he made with their employers.  “Give my regards to the ferryman,”he says, slipping the Society’s invitation coin into their dead agent’s mouth before returning to the rooftop for another tough decision.  Heads he saves Gotham; tails he makes it bleed.

A quintessential Two Face tale and another example of a story that tells us all we need to know about a character through his actions rather than his origins.

#6: MR. FREEZE (Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti – writers, Jason Masters – artist)

1Our story begins thirty years ago in Gotham city where, on a snowy winter’s night, a young Victor Fries watches from his bedroom window as his father walks out on his family.  Young Victor finds solace in his doting mother but, a year later, even that small comfort is denied him after a tragic accident claims her life.  The rest of the story unfolds as a character study of the adult Victor Fries, now a supervillain incarcerated at Arkham Asylum.  He is obsessed with the second life his father has built for himself and wants to reach out to his new family.  And the opportunity presents itself when Arkham Asylum is crashed by outside forces.  Finally free, Victor resassumes his Mr. Freeze identity but, rather than flee Gotham, he elects to stay. As he puts it: “I had grudges which needed to be dealt with.”

He enlists some cannibalistic thugs to his cause, but when they prove unruly (which is, I suppose, is something to be expected from cannibals), he “ices” them, along the way demonstrating small mercy for a nurse who once helped him.  He is a man on a mission but, apparently, not one without some compassion.  And, as he forges ahead, we are offered a glimpse of his past and the tragic events that led to his cryogenic condition.

When all is said and done, we bear witness to a family reunion of sorts as Mr. Freeze finally dines with his step-mother, step-brother, and step-sister in a final tableau: he raising a glass in toast while they, frozen solid at the dinner table, enjoy their final meal.  You may see it coming but even that doesn’t lessen the impact of that final, horrifying panel.

A solid tale with a remarkably chilling atmosphere compliments of Dave McCaig’s cool blue coloring.

#5. KILLER CROC (Tim Seeley – writer, Francis Portela – arist)

1This one took me by surprise.  It starts off as a fairly straightforward cops versus bad guy story but, along the way, subverts our preconceived notions of good and evil, painting the titular villain in a sympathetic, albeit shadowy, light.

A group of Gotham’s finest are making their way through the city’s sewer system when they are ambushed by Killer Croc.  As the survivors attempt to stay one step ahead of their inhuman pursuer and his minions, we flashback to the events that shaped our reptilian antagonist.  As a kid, Waylon Jones was afflicted with a condition that gave him a lizard-skinned appearance.  Eventually, despite his best efforts, the condition spread to the point that he became a pariah, a freak forced to make ends meet by joining a circus.  But when his employer attempted to take advantage of him, Waylon bit the hand that fed him – literally – and embarked on a life of crime.

It’s another case of being presented with a tragic backstory that makes us, if not sympathetic to Waylon (aka Killer Croc), then at least cognizant of why he is the way he is.  Of course, mitigating any compassion we may feel for him is his cold-blooded hunt of the clearly outmatched police officers.  One by one, they fall until only one remains.  He opens a door to what he assumes is freedom but, instead of escape, discovers the body of a fellow officer.  But here’s the twist: this fellow officer did not die at the hands of Killer Croc…

We flashback again and the truth is revealed.  The cops Killer Croc has been pursuing are dirty.  They killed a fellow officer, a man who refused their offer to play ball, a man, it turns out, who once did a kindness to a young boy with a horrible skin condition…

A nice double twist and an unexpectedly touching story.

#4. CLAYFACE (written by John Layman, art by Cliff Richards)

1A heavy dose of dark humor makes this one an exceptionally delightful read.

Clayface leads a group of criminals through the sewer system enroute to a bank heist.  But a disagreement with his cohorts brings back painful memories, a pain he is all too quick to share with them.  The heist scuttled, Clayface makes his way to the surface where chaos now reigns and grabs a drink at a local bar peopled by fellow villains.  He’s not quite sure what’s going on but luckily television, as always, has the answers.  The Secret Society has taken over and are actively recruiting talent, however a resistance has formed to fight this new order.  Unfortunately, before Clayface can learn more, a fellow customer puts a bottle through the t.v. screen, dismissing the so-called resistance as little more than “a minor annoyance”.  Clayface dimisses the fellow customer – with a fist to the face that lays him out cold – then heads off.

His plan is quite simple: infiltrate the resistance and destroy it, thereby currying favor with The Secret Society.  As it turns out, two out of three IS bad – especially when “the resistance” you infiltrate and destroy is actually a front created by The Secret Society to capture potential dissenters.  “This organized resistance,” Clayface is informed, “was organized by us.”  You idiot.

It’s back to the bar for Clayface who, having survived the base’s self-destruct and come out smelling like flowers charcoal, knocks back some more drinks. But it’s not long before he is approached by another group of criminals with yet another plan. They need muscle for a gold heist.  Is he interested?  Is he!  We leave Clayface in the company of his new partners, looking forward to one more shot at getting back on top.

#3. COUNT VERTIGO (writer – Jeff Lemire, artist – Andrea Sorrentino)

1Count Zytle arrives in Vancouver, Canada under the pretense of attending a charity fundraiser, but the true reasons for his visit are of a highly personal nature.  It has been nineteen years since his father died, protecting his birthright; nineteen years since rebels forced him and his mother to flee Vlatavia for the safety of North America’s west coast.  Forced into prostitution, his embittered mother placed much of the blame for their circumstances squarely on the young Werner.  Death would have been preferable to the life she now leads, but she didn’t have a choice.  “I had to run…I had to protect the precious count.”

Things get even worse for young Werner when his mother gives him up to a “special school” for young boys.  There, he is experimented upon, then ostracized by his fellow pupils until the day his power finally manifests itself.  Ten years later, he decides he has had enough and leaves the school that transformed him into a weapon.  When a representative of the institute attempts to stop him, he is dealt with in gruesome fashion.

It’s been many years since, but Count Zytle – aka Count Vertigo – has come back to the school where he was raised.  It stands empty now, long-since abandoned, it’s sole occupant the only living link to his painful past: his mother.  He has imprisoned her as punishment for abandoning him but, after years of drug abuse, she can barely recognize him, much less her dire situation.  In speaking to her son, however, she grows more lucid, apologizing for giving him up.  But he is not interested in dwelling on the past.  “I think you’ve suffered enough, momma,”he says.  “I did come here to set you free.”  She assumes this means she is finally going back to Vlatava, but he divests her of the assumption: “Oh, no, momma.  You’re not going home.  You are a junkie and a whore.  You do no deserve to see the homeland ever again.”  It’s release of a different kind he has in mind.  For both of them.  And, after finally putting his past to rest, Count Zytle leaves.  His helicopter flies out into the night while, behind him, the school burns.

An incredibly dark, tightly written tale.  The artwork, by Andrea Sorrentino, is perfect, lending the whole an unrelenting grimness.

#2. JOKER (Andy Kubert – writer, Andy Clarke – art)

1

Joker is undoubtedly Batman’s greatest enemy and yet I know so little about the clown prince of darkness beyond his psychotic persona.  Yes, he’s crazy, but why? Okay, besides that dip in a chemical bath.

We open on a frightened child, clinging to his monkey doll, cowering in fear, when he is forcibly dragged out of hiding and physically abused by a mother figure.  Her face is never glimpsed, but her hands are heavily featured – chalky, withered, claw-like. One grips a brush, the other a bottle of bleach.  It’s time for a cleaning.  The child’s cries carry off him and over to his abandoned monkey doll lying in a corner of the room…

Flashforward to that child all grown up.  The Joker and his colorful cohorts are enjoying an atypical day at the zoo, feeding some poor fellow to a python, but Joker seems distracted, almost mournful.  Memories of his Aunt Eunice have put him in a bit of a funk and he wanders off…and over to the gorilla enclosure where he lays eyes on a baby gorilla.  And, suddenly, the story shifts into a brilliantly demented version of Bedtime for Bonzo as Joker assumes the role of caregiver to the young primate.  The love and affection he demonstrates toward little Jackanapes is contrasted with the abuse the Joker received as a child.  And yet, despite the fact that he is a psychotic mass murderer,  there’s no denying his love for that young gorilla.

Eventually, Jackanapes grows up and becomes party to Joker’s deranged crimes.  It’s a father-son bonding montage except, in lieu of playing catch, these two build bombs, fire bazookas, dump toxic waste, and burn down department stores.  And when a newly elected council woman decides to shut down the zoo, another perfect outing presents itself.  Jackanapes in tow, Joker attacks a dirigible transporting the council woman over Gotham.  Gunfire is exchanged and the bat signal lit, much to the Joker’s delight.  “For the past few years I’ve danced with the caped crusader,”he tells Jackanape.  “And every time we tussle, it gives me even more respect and admiration for him.  Perhaps too much.  I don’t think I could exist without him!”  An admission that elicits a tear from his young gorilla protege.

But things take a tragic turn when they are forced to abandon the dirigible.  The Joker lands on an elevated track but Jackanape ends up in the Gotham river, having failed to pop the wings of his jet pack.  “Why, Jack?”wonders the Joker. “Why didn’t you pop your wings?”.  Did he panic?  Forget?  Or was it a conscious decision made? For a split second, we see the Joker react in shockingly uncharacteristic fashion.  A single panel conveys a wash of emotions: anguish, loss, sadness.  And then, in instant, they’re gone and our manic villain is back to his old self, throwing his head back and laughing.  The joke, after all, is on him.  He’s going to need a refund for all those swimming lessons.

A tragi-comic masterpiece.

#1. LEX LUTHOR (Charles Soule – writer, Raymund Bermudez – pencils)

1This one deftly juggles multiple story elements while offering up a number of great character moments that inform us on Lex Luthor.  Right off the top, there’s an exchange between Luthor and a prison guard as Lex prepares to leave the Hypermax Detention Facility, finally a free man.  “You want this, George.  Don’t you?”says Lex, referring to his former prison uniform.  Lex points out that it’s prison property, that George could sell it for a lot of money, money that could go toward his children’s education.  George, ever-so-deferential, does not want to presume anything.  But Lex persists.  He’ll never wear it again.  “All you need to do…”he tells George, holding the prison uniform out toward him, “…is walk over here and take it.”  What follows are two powerful, wordless panels:  the first of George staring longingly at Lex, mere feet away, holding out the prison uniform; the second of George looking on as Lex walks away, his prison uniform slung over his shoulder.  It’s an incredibly effective and powerful moment that leaves no doubt.  Lex Luthor is an asshole.  And an intimidating one at that.

Lex boards his private helicopter and is greeted by his eager new assistant, Casey, who informs him that Superman has, apparently, disappeared.  Lex accepts the news with equal parts significance and skepticism.  Is his hated enemy truly gone? To find out, he puts a devious plan in motion, launching a manned space shuttle and then orchestrating a malfunction that strands the shuttle in a degrading orbit. Will Superman save the day?

The answer, it turns out, is no.  It’s a simple enough point to prove without actually sacrificing the shuttle and its crew, but as Lex tells a horrified Casey: “I didn’t need to save them to get what I wanted.”  The world will see the crash as Superman’s failure.  Of course, he, Lex, could have saved the shuttle – but there was always the chance, however remote, that he might have failed… “…and the world would blame me for failing to succeed.  I learned that lesson years ago.  But no one will blame me for failing to try.”  Casey attempts to call 911, but Lex expected as much and had the foresight to kill communications.  And Casey as well whose green high heeled shoes Lex casually kicks off the rooftop, presumably following their owner’s descent.

It’s back to business for Luthor who has already moved on to his next big scheme. He boards his private helicopter where his eager new assistant, Miranda, awaits. She can barely contain herself at the prospect of working for him.  “I can’t tell you how excited I am,”she confides.

“Well, of course you are,”says Lex.  “I’m Lex Luthor for God’s sake.”  Hell, yeah!

How many did you check out and which were your favorites?

Read Full Post »

IM poster

Dis would have been a great movie if it had been half an hour shorter. And made a lick of sense.  Monster can imagine script notes session went someting like dis:

Producer: Dis skript full of plot holes and not make much sense.

Writer: Dats okay.  Me fix it.

Producer: By applying logic so it easier to understand?

Writer: No.  By making it so complicated dat audience simply assume dey too stoopid to understand.

Well, me have news for makers of Iron Man 3.  Monster not stoopid. Me have GED from Pyongyang Institute of Higher Learning and Dance!

x

Alternate nicknames included Satsuma, Valencia, and Clementine.

Movie begin wit Tony Stark seeing a therapist because he suffering panic attacks after Avengers movie.  How dese panic attacks figure into plot and pay off at end of movie.  Spoiler alert: Dey don’t!

Meanwhile, U.S. government rocked by string of bombings orchestrated by villain called de Mandarin!  Why he called de Manadarin?  Well, in original comic books, he called de Mandarin because he be of Chinese descent and adopt title of Chinese bureaucrats of Imperial China.  In de movie – well, he not Chinese but Middle-Eastern so he called de Mandarin because…mebbe he named after de orange?  It was either dat or Tangerine?

When Tony’s bodyguard get injured in an explosion dat, in retrospekt, not make any sense at all (we’ll get to dat), Tony vow revenge and dare Mandarin to come after him.  So bad guy respond by blowing up Tony’s cool mountain-side home.

Oh, Timmy!  You little scamp!

Oh, Timmy! You little scamp!

At dis point, fairly more-or-less straightforward movie take a hairpin turn when Tony end up in Tennessee to investigate similar bombing there.  He befriend lovable little rascal of a kid who all sorts of quippy and cute and no doubt shoe-horned into story to appeal to young audience.  Dudes, it’s a movie based on a comic book character!

While Tony enlist brilliant kid’s help to recharge his armor, he investigate apparent suicide bombing by local soldier and pay visit to his mom at local bar. COINCIDENTALLY, she happen to be waiting for someone to give dem a top sekret file on her son.  A top sekret file dat, for some reason, also contain information on other soldier blown up in similar explosion.

Why mother have dis information on other soldier?  Why bad guys need to get deir hands on dis file?  Why dey just not go over to her place and take it instead of arranging meeting in a public place?  How Tony be so lucky as to just happen to walk into bar and approach soldier’s mother on exact night she be planning to meet bad guys and hand over file?  How possible – LOOK!  EXPLOSIONS!  COOL!

Tony fight bad guys who turn out to be super soldiers wit super-strength, agility, and healing powers.  And, for no apparent reason later on, super fire breath.  He defeat dem, but barely.

In one of movie’s many ridikulous moments, Tony learns all about super soldiers by hacking into super seckret database containing convenient video recordings of experiments on soldiers wit someting called Extremis.  Sometime it work, making dem superhuman.  Other times it not work, making dem blow up. BUT….

We see one soldier blow up because his body unable to accept Extremis.  Dis be explanation for explosion.  But den how to explain explosion of soldier in Tennessee? If his body rejekted Extremis, he would have blown up in lab, not in public?  And what about soldier who exploded, injuring Tony’s bodyguard?  Why he blow up?  If it delayed reaction to Extremis, what all dat nonsense about him getting a briefcase from bad guy?

Tony track bad guy to Miami and get drop on Mandarin who…turn out to be aktor hired to play part of a wanted terrorist.  Very funny – except for fakt dat, even though he be seemingly goofy and unwitting accomplice who assumed deaths were fake, he couldn’t be stoopid enough NOT to be aware of news reports on terrorist acts in his name. Also, he SHOT a guy on video!

Dis little twist bring up another point.  In comic book, Mandarin be one of Iron Man’s greatest villains – but he played for a joke here.  So dis pretty much rule out any appearance of real villainous Mandarin in future Iron Man movies…unless he be some supervillain who just decide to name himself after a laughingstock rube.

Tony captured.  But get his armor back.  But Pepper kidnapped.  And President!  And Air Force One blow up but Iron Man manage to save flight crew in one of movie’s more inspired sekwences.

x

Boy!  Dem some spicy nuts!

It all culminate in big extended impressive but over-long climactic battle pitting Tony and his buddy, Rhodey, against bad guy and super soldiers.  Pepper, who now a super soldier because she be injected wit Extremis, help save de day.  And Tony celebrate by blowing up all his extra Iron Man suits, assuming he won’t need dem because bad guys all dead even though he thought he had killed dem before and dey turned up very much alive later.  Also, FYI,  some of dem not really injured and just fell into ocean so chances are – LOOK!  EXPLOSIONS! SO COOL!

Wait a minute.  Pepper now a super soldier?  No, because Tony be a genius.  He fix her.  Uh, if Tony be such a genius, why he not fix himself?  Okay, because Tony be a genius, he also fix himself and remove shrapnel from his heart.  Happy now?  Uh, if Tony such a genius, why he not remove shrapnel from heart two movies sooner?

Wait another minute! What was bad guy’s plan?  To get Vice President in office?  But if dat de case, why not just assassinate President instead of going through big show of kidnapping him, stringing him up, etc? What was point of de Mandarin?  More me tink about it, more me hate dis movie.

VERDIKT: Great movie for people who love explosions – and not much else.

RATING: 4 chocolate chippee cookies.

Read Full Post »

Crow posterFull disklosure: Monster not a fan of mimes.  It be a phobia me have (like heights, tight places, and Celine Dion) dat go all de way back to monster’s childhood.  Me often try to figure out why dis be, and always come up wit tree possible reasons: 1. Mimes be second-cousins of clowns who, everyone can agree, be creepy mofo’s.  2. Mimes never speak clearly mean dey have someting to hide.  3. When monster just a kid, me get punched in eye by drunken mime.  For dese reasons, me tink me not like mimes.  Also because, for many years, street mime dat perform outside monster’s apartment building always doing invisible wall gag.  It not so bad except dis particular invisible wall be bathroom stall.

Anyhoo, all dis to say: me not like mimes.  So when presented wit dis movie about an undead mime (!), monster about as enthusiastic as Grover at a waxing bar.

But dis movie surprise monster.  In a good way.  Not like sucker punch in de eye.

Let's do the time warp agaaaaiiiiin!

Let’s do the time warp agaaaaiiiiin!

The Crow be a classic revenge tale.  Boy meets Girl.  Boy loses girl – and life.  Boy comes back from de grave and kill a bunch of bad guys.

After he and his girlfriend get killed by bunch of thugs, Eric Draven take it very personal.  He crawl out of his grave, don pancake make-up, and become…Super Mime.  No, scratch dat.  He become…De Crow!  But, er, why he wear pancake make-up?  He not exaktly trying to hide his identity.  He tell everyone who he really be: cops, a kid, de bad guys he about to kill.  It not as if police can go arrest him at his new cemetery loft.

x

He be good at killing AND art.

Drawing inspiration – and power – from a crow, Eric, aka De Crow, start exacting revenge on thugs responsible for ruining his life.  One by one, he pick dem off, skewering one wit multiple knives, pincushioning another wit needles, taping another into his car before sending it speeding off a dock AND blowing it up, culminating in big shoot-out and Gothic rooftop swordfight in dead of night and driving rain!  It all presented as pretty straightforward revenge fare, but it very satisfying because all de elements work.  Solid direktion, a good skript dat only occasionally cheesy, and some very good performances.

x

He like it spicy!

Movie work so well because it, at it’s heart, be a story about love and loss.  De Crow not be your typical vigilante but a tragik figure.  Dis conveyed in his backstory, his love for his girlfriend, in brilliantly broody performance by Brandon Lee, and in his relationships wit two secondary characters: a by-de-book cop and a street kid wit a chip on her shoulder.  On de surface, de latter seem as cliched as de movie’s plot but, like de plot, it transcend formula and stereotypes to deliver a film wit surprising heart and depth.

Verdikt: Puts almost every other bloated, big budget superhero movie to shame.

Rating: 8.5 chocolate chippee cookies!

Read Full Post »

1ANIMAL MAN

He can soar like an eagle, swim like a shark, run like leopard, and eat like a pug! Awesome!

1BOOSTER GOLD

A hero who comes from the future, not in search of bad guys, but personal fame and fortune.  Delightfully anti-heroic.

1DEADMAN

The ghost of a murder victim is permitted to temporarily inhabit the bodies of the living in order to track down his killer – and run various equally important errands.

1DEATHLOK THE DEMOLISHER

A fatally injured soldier is reanimated in a cybernetic body.  Haunted by memories of his past life and loved ones, he soon finds himself on the run from his evil creators.

1HITMAN

Pretty much what the title implies.  Our protagonist is an Irish  contract killer with a gift for violence – and some very colorful buddies.

1HOURMAN

There are actually two equally terrific versions of the character.  The first is a human addicted to Miraclo, a drug that grants him temporary superheroes.  The second is an android from the 853rd century.  Take your pick.

1HOWARD THE DUCK

Yes, I know he already had his shot, but hear me out.  Howard the Duck is a fantastic character and deserved much, much better than that George Lucas turkey. Come on.  Give the duck a break.

1IRON FIST

Martial arts and superheroics.  The vest of both worlds.

1LOBO

An interstellar mercenary and bounty hunter that Jason Momoa was born to play.

1MARTIAN MANHUNTER

Possessing the abilities of telepathy, x-ray vision, flight, super strength, super speed, shape and phase-shifting, and density control ( to name a few), he is Mars’s answer to superman.

Read Full Post »

DS posterDr. Strange?  More like Dr. Creep!  Apparently, dis guy not familiar wit de Hypocritical Oath, but he all sorts of familiar wit “doctor-patient confidentiality”…if you know what me mean.  No?  Well, let monster put it dis way.  When he around de ladies at work, he like Cookie Monster at a bake sale.  Or Grover at a topless bake sale.

We introduced to Dr. Stephen Strange who be a psykiaktric resident at local hospital  - and major player.  And not necessarily in dat order.  Dis guy more unprofessional den Dr. Bunsen Honeydew at a Science World “History of Lube” exhibit.  He sexy talk wit head nurse and den kiss her – in middle of hallway in front of everyone – which lead monster to assume dey be in a relationship.  But when good-looking mental patient end up in his care, he not have any problem hooking up wit her either.  At one point, another female patient visit him complaining about painful ulcer.  He say to her: “I’ve got an extra bed and I can give you something to help you sleep.”  Sure you can, doc.  Sure you can.

x

Today’s hospital special: Free Temperatures Taken!

Meanwhile, a sorceress who worships a demon puppet is given tree days (Why tree days?  Why not!) to kill an old wizard before he can pass down his power to worthy successor – or, barring worthy successor, creepy doctor who happen to own a weird ring.

Old guy, it turn out, live in downtown brownstone dat renovated to resemble Fred Flintstone’s digs.  He be shacked up wit younger man, Wu, who look after his needs and refer to him as master.  Er.  Yeah.  Old man show him drawing of sorceress and tell him to remember her face.  Really?  How de hell he supposed to do dat?  It be like police putting out APB on actor who played Archie Andrews in de live action movie and distributing comic book for identification purposes.

It turn out old man be on to sorceress and head out to confront her.  She pull de old bait and switch, showing up, den disappearing, den mind controlling innocent woman into pushing him off bridge down to street below.

Old guy get up and limp away.  “Hey, buddy!”somebody call.  “You sure you’re alright?”  Of course he alright!  He only plummeted 20 feet onto concrete and get hit by a car.  You’ll have to do better den dat if you want to kill a wizard!

Cue weird synth music!  Cue inexorable extended guitar solo!  Cue trippy dream sekwence!  Cue astral travel!

x

Hey!  Who took away my keyboard?!

Dr. Strange “treat” young woman mind-controlled by sorceress.  He shake hands wit old wizard and get power – also, possible cold.

But sorceress gain entrance to old guy’s bedrock pad and string him up on astral plane where he lose his powers and resemble Alice Cooper’s dad.  Dr. Strange follow and battle sorceress who, it turn out, really just looking for someone to love and have a baby wit.

x

Dazzling visual effekts!

Overwhelmed by Dr. Strange’s manly moustache, she try to hook up wit him – but he rejekt her and den blast her wit energy bolt just in case she not get de message.

De End.

Except movie goes on for another half an hour.  Strange goes thru lame ritual.  He become official apprentice sorcerer.  He screw with street performer.  Puppet demon punish sorceress by making her really old.  And, mysteriously, a couple of scenes later, she back to her old self, on Earth, and now a self-help guru.

Now really De End.

Verdikt:  Cheesy and lame but unintentionally hilarious and mercifully short.

Rating: 3 chocolate chippee cookies.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,037 other followers